Fannie Lou Hamer was born October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. The twentieth child of sharecroppers Jim and Lou Ella Townsend, Hamer grew up picking cotton and cutting corn, and only attended school until the 6th grade. She married fellow sharecropper Perry Hamer, and despite her humble beginnings, Hamer would go onto become a recognized fighter in the Civil Rights Movement through her involvement in securing voting rights for African Americans. Her activism began after going to a meeting encouraging African Americans to vote and become active in 1962. In addition to championing the right to vote, Hamer advocated for economic assistance for African Americans, spoke out against pervasive poverty in the black community and founded organizations including Freedom Farms (a land co-op for poor farmers to eventually purchase land) and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (the Democratic Party of Mississippi did not allow blacks), as well as being a member of SNCC. Mrs. Hamer even ran for Congress, and though the current party would not allow her to put her name on the ballot, Hamer received more outside votes than her opponent. In spite of being threatened, arrested, and beaten for advocating civil rights, Hamer went on to become a nationally recognized symbol for the male dominated civil rights movement. Though she died of cancer in Mississippi in 1977, she is often remembered today as the “spirit of the Civil Rights Movement” and is well known for her famous quote, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Fannie Lou's Speech on Voting Rights at the DNC

-Post by Mwende Katwiwa, Tulane University Student